Lordie, it’s 2009.
Who would have expected such a thing? When I was a little kid back in the Cretaceous period, I used to wonder if I would still be alive in the year 2000, when I would (after all) have reached the decrepit old age of 55. I felt a little surprised when I made it that far.
To have doddered on almost ten years beyond that has something of the unreal about it.
Now I enter the age that my mother was when she died, murdered by the tobacco pushers and further victimized by incompetent and uncaring doctors. Ever since her death, I have wondered, just like that little kid back in the ’50s, if I would outlive her or if I would go at the same age. Irrational, no doubt: but apparently so many people think along those weirdly magical lines that some actually do die—or contrive to die—at the same age or under the same circumstances as a deceased loved one.
The days in which we ritually celebrate the passing of another year—especially birthdays and New Year’s Eve—feel vaguely unpleasant to me. More than vaguely: distinctly. I enjoy living and don’t like being reminded of how few years remain. Nor do I like being reminded of how many years of my life and hers my mother missed—an entire lifetime of years: my son’s. These things do not make me feel like celebrating. To the contrary.
Hallowe’en—la dia de los muertos—when the dead and death itself are celebrated, seems less sad and far less depressing to me. It springs from a deeper impulse, a more thoughtful and meaningful way of celebrating the passage of time and life than drinking, dancing, and setting off fireworks because another year of our existence has gone down.
Speaking of fireworks, someone in the neighborhood has a great fondness for them. They set them off at the drop of every hat, and an excuse like the Fourth of July or New Year’s Day brings on an hour-long frenzy of whistling, squealing, banging, and flashing. Fireworks are illegal in Arizona. That means the folks are smuggling them across the border. I think Pretty Daughter‘s middle-school-aged children are among the celebrants, and that makes me cringe. As you get older, you get more cautious—or possibly you get old because you are the cautious type. A kid in my junior high school in San Francisco was blinded when he set off a cherry bomb in a tin can. Ever since then I’ve imagined that people who let their children play with fireworks are working hard to improve the gene pool.
Well, in the gene department I have a shot at living to old age. Though my mother and both her parents died young, my father lived to 84 despite lifelong smoking and drinking habits; my great-grandmother and great-aunt, Christian Scientists who neither smoked nor drank, both made it to 94. I’m no teetotaller, and it’s clear now that my openness tovisiting doctors isn’t a lot safer today than it was in the 1800s when Christian Science’s aversion for the crude medical practice of the time made sterling sense. But one can hope.
There are several things we all can do to help ensure we live out the years allotted to us:
Keep active mentally and socially
Coincidentally, most of these are frugal habits, too. Think of that: frugality adds years to your life!
Live long and prosper.